EXCLUSIVE: Bay school's $3.7m reno as student numbers soar
IT'S already earning a reputation for having some of the best teachers and student scores in Queensland.
Now, Hervey Bay's biggest independent school is getting the infrastructure to match its fast-growing population and enviable results.
The Chronicle can reveal a raft of upgrades valued at $3.7M are in the works with plans for a new theatrette, the construction of which means dozens of local jobs, to be revealed on Tuesday.
From humble beginnings as the 'the small school' with about 60 students, the college now boasts more than 600.
Due to expanding numbers and changes in teaching models, the prep-to-12 school has undergone a multi-million dollar upgrade with two major construction projects at the school.
The $2.1 million project includes an extension to the school's Learning Resource Centre, refurbishment of classrooms for Years 4, 5 and 6, and a new Student Amenities Block.
The Federal Government kicked in $889,000 under the Block Grant Authority for Stage One of the upgrades which will be officially opened by Hinkler MP Keith Pitt at a ceremony next week.
There, it will also be announced that the Federal Government has committed $700,000 for the $1.6 million dollar Stage Two construction of a new 80 seat theatrette as well as four new classrooms.
Construction has already begun with Stage Two due to be completed in August.
Principal Luke Schoff said the original primary school classrooms have been replaced by large double rooms for flexible learning and a collaborative teaching approach.
"We have been able to open up those rooms and make them more modern and contemporary because the style of learning when the school was first set up was based on a model of compliance and discipline and we know that in teaching that is not the model which is the best way for students to learn," he said.
"(The best way) is about collaboration, creativity and communication and we have now set up classrooms which have been able to foster those three things."
St James made the top 20 schools in the state last year for it's Year 12 OP results.
Mr Schoff said in the past year alone, student numbers had soared by 11 per cent and he was grateful the school had been ear-marked for assistance.
"I think sometimes the public likes to talk about the divide between private and public and there is always going to be that debate because it represents three sectors of our community," Mr Schoff explained.
"Some parents want state education, some want independent and some want catholic. And I think it is the governments responsibility to fund all three, which they do."
The new theatrette will be used for student performances, by drama and film and TV students and whole-of-year student assemblies.
Hervey Bay company Torbay Constructions had been contracted to undertake the works, providing employment for about 60 locals.